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education was undertaken by the Church for its own clergy and
then extended to the community at large. It must be presumed
that, as in all movements which are the spontaneous outcome of
social needs rather than the results of deliberate purpose, progress
was unequal in different parts of Europe, and that there were
many local variations.

In the Western Church as a whole, the instability of political
conditions and the passions engendered by the conflict between
Christianity and cultured paganism undoubtedly put obstacles in
the way of education and retarded its development. At any rate,
it seems to have been in the Eastern branch of the Church, as yet
free from the social confusion caused by barbarian invasion, that
the obligation of the clergy to undertake the work of education
was first explicitly assumed. Two of the canons wrongly attri-
buted to the Sixth Ecumenical Council, which met at Constan-
tinople in 680, are of special note as the oldest statutes on education
in the law of the Church. The first of these, relating to schools
" in the churches of saints " (that is, in the cathedrals under direct
episcopal control) or in the monasteries, enacted that any priest
who wished to send his nephew or other kinsman was at liberty
to do so. The second instructed priests in villages and towns to
keep schools to which might come for instruction in grammar the
children of any of the faithful who were willing to entrust them
to their care, and directed the priests not to exact fees or to receive
any payment except such as might be voluntarily given. The
origin of these canons is obscure; but they are certainly very
ancient (not later than the beginning of the Eighth Century) and
the tradition that connects them with Constantinople is at least
plausible.* From the latter of them it may be inferred that at the
time they were written there were already in existence in the
smaller towns some grammar schools for the children of the laity,
under the superintendence of the priests, and that there was a
desire to have similar schools everywhere. The former seems to
show that the higher schools were still conducted primarily for
the clergy, but that the studies pursued in them were sufficiently
general to be of profit to others who were not necessarily going to
enter holy orders.

About a century later (797) these canons were repeated in
rather more specific terms in the West by Theodulph, Bishop of

* For the text see Mansi, Sacrorvm ConsiUorum Nova Collectio, xi, 1007.